Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oh Lord, Give me Strength!

Tonight is the opening reception for our Senior Show. We invite 4,000 people, but I'm hoping for 600... even with the rain.

But mixed liberally within that 600 people are a couple that I don't want to see:

- my old boss, who pushes crazy and awkward to new heights every time I see her.

- a recent grad that just this week decided she didn't like my advice, so went to a very gossip-stricken faculty person to tell him how awful I am at my job. (Keep in mind, she was about to commit "career suicide" but now that's my fault.)

- a woman that owns a gallery in a western suburb that drinks WAY too much.

But after today, I will return to thinking the world is a lovely place. I will continue on my path to try to help those in need.

But for today, I just want to make it through!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Africa elusive...

Back in the late 90's, I spent almost two years teaching myself Amharic. I bought tapes, listened to Ethiopian radio, and taught myself the alphabet.

I planned a trip, bought my plane ticket, and got my shots. I prepared my parents for the idea that I might not come back. 6 weeks before my departure date, a war broke out between Ethiopian and Eritrea, and all westerners were removed by the State Department. End of trip. End of story.

Fast forward to today. I've been trying to learn a little Swahili. I'm guessing it will take me another year to get to any level of proficiency that would make it fun.

But yesterday I found out that my parents are going to Tanzania in June. According to my friend Charles, Tanzanian Swahili is very cool. And now I'm very jealous.

The only thing that assuages my jealousy is knowing that the group going is lead by a bunch of priests. Older priests. I'm guessing they won't be interested in going to nightclubs and probably not interested in finding out if hip-hop is really being used as a revolution/movement building tool. I saw an interesting film on that subject, done by a PENN grad student last year.

I also know they're planning on a safari of sorts. I'm not sure how I feel about safari. I might be into some hiking that happened along some animals, but I don't think I'd be interested in going to a reserve. I've never like the zoo, and I'm kind of afraid of the wilderness.

Regardless, I'm still jealous. But I will use the extra energy brought about by the raging jealousy to learn more Swahili and try to save money.

For any of you that are interested in Tanzania, try listening to their "hot" radio station:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

My blogging energy has been channeled into working on a short story for a writing contest.

I've never done any creative writing, but I've always wanted to write a novel, so I decided this would be a good outlet for trying.

So here's my assignment:

By May 13th I must create a 1,500 word story about the picture above.
I'm about half done and I'll be working on it over the weekend and I'll post a draft of it next week!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fine Art for the Comic-book crew...

Check out this man's website.

Not my thing, but I know there are some people out there that I'm not allowed to talk to that would probably find this very lovely and just their cup of tea.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Mourning.

This Easter has been different.

Starting with Good Friday's visit with Miss Nina, this Easter has been about visiting with people in long-term crisis.

Yesterday, I spent the day with my friend and her husband. She is 7 months pregnant and her mother is in the hospital with complications from ovarian cancer.

We started the day by making brunch: french toast and berry compote. Then we put the first coat of paint on the room that was to be the nursery and now will welcome Miss Ayeisha if she leaves the hospital.

We also played Karaoke Revolution on the XBox. My friend blew her husband and I out of the water! She has such a beautiful voice. Even when we tried to level the playing field - by choosing songs she didn't know and making the judging harder, she still was amazing. Clearly there are very few things that challenge her voice.

Finally we went to the hospital to be with Miss Ayeisha. She was having trouble talking because of the tube down her throat, but was still glowing with positivity. There was a wonderful rotation of characters: a Catholic priest that sang "Hail Mary," an artist friend that arranged for a special healer in Hawaii to do intuitive healing over the phone, another healer came as I was leaving to go put on the second coat of paint in the nursery/office/guest room, and a sweet nurse that explained her last-minute Easter schedule as meant-to-be because of the special, wonderful energy that is Miss Ayeisha.

I feel like days like yesterday are rare. I laughed and sang. I taped, scraped, and painted. I prayed and meditated. And I sent all the energy I could to everyone else around me.

I woke up several times last night dreaming about them all. The priest who sang, Miss Ayeisha who whispered and alternated her smiles and her grimaces, and my friend and her husband who played with the baby - just a little skin and flesh separating their games.

Today I am tired. I'm longing to have someone just sit with me and relax. I need some of my energy back because I know there is more to come. It will only get more intense from here for them.

I think I'll just sit here for a minute and imagine some warmth. Some long arms wrapped around me. A whisper of encouragement before the next thing comes.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Joy of Miss Nina

For two weeks now, I've been carving a bit of time out of my day to have lunch with my friend's mom, Miss Nina.

She is in town for medical treatment and spends most of her days alone and tired. She's been here for months, but last week I ran into her on the street. We made a lunch date, fine-tuned the details through her daughter, and met in the lobby of the building.

Last week we went to a Chinese restaurant, so this week we just sat in the apartment and had sandwiches while chatting. We talked about so much: her treatment, all the work to be done back-home, things she's lost, but the most amazing parts to me were her descriptions of my friend's childhood.

She was telling me about birthdays and how much trouble she went to creating birthday cakes for her children. She described a Wizard of OZ cake that had a yellow brick road and all-four characters. She still seemed a bit disappointed at not being able to find silver icing for the tin man! "It was the only part that wasn't edible," she explained.

The other daughter got a Holly Hobby cake one year, that one took her forever with all the flowers. The son wanted Homer Simpson, so she got a picture to copy and drew a sofa first and then had Homer laying back, beer in hand!

She had so much light and life in her face while telling me about them. Pride of accomplishment and love of children are powerful. It didn't seem to matter much that all the pictures of these masterpieces were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina or that she wasn't feeling well. In that moment she was transported to the birthday party where little Ravi must have giggled with glee at seeing Homer - and the rest of the party must have laughed hysterically and given her so many compliments for all her hard work.

I'm disappointed she'll be away next week, but when she returns we have planned a picnic in the park. I'm really looking forward to it!

Friday, April 6, 2007

El Camino

Two posts in one day, it's a miracle.

But I thought today would be a good day to talk about how much I want to do El Camino, the traditional pilgrimage across the Pyrenees to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. (Especially because Charles and I were talking about it last night.)

Read more about it here:

This is one of the traditional pilgrimages that's been done since the middle ages. It's supposed to make up for SERIOUS sins. While I don't have too much in the way of SERIOUS sinning going on, I do have SERIOUS guilt, and I think it would help alleviate a bit of my burden.

I know that one of the places you can begin is Arles, a city in France that I have not yet visited. I think I would love it: beaches close by, Van Gogh stuff, lots of medieval sites, and a wonderful cathedral. It would be a nice place to start such a journey.

Most of the routes are over 1000 kilometers, which means over 600 miles. There are buses, you can ride your bike, but if I want to walk whatever path I take in under a month, then I'd have to plan on nearly a marathon every day.

*Ding* - maybe I should finally follow my dear, wonderful roommate's advice and train to walk a marathon.

There is so much about this journey that appeals to me. It has Christian, pagan, and new-age histories, and I embrace all of them. I love to walk and I would like the opportunity to remove myself from life and interact with many different kinds of people. I'd like to challenge myself physically, mentally, and culturally. And walking through that part of the world in the lovely summer months must be amazing! (Trees, mountains, fields - cutting across the boundaries of countries, classes, and religions.)

Okay, I need to do two things: walk a marathon and go camping. That will help me decide if this is a feasible project or not. If not, then I'll be searching for another wonderful experience to help assuage my guilt and develop my character!

A typical Spring Day...

Good Friday. Such a sad, lamentful day.

But Maunday Thursday! My Gosh, did I have a day.

6am: Alarm goes off
7:05: Leave house for train
8:20: Get to work
9:00: Greet VIP guests who would be using my office all day
9:30-11:30: Try to continue my day as usual while simultaneously helping VIPs, keeping all my appointments with students, and all without use of my computer.
11:30: Go to meeting instead of lunch
12:30-2pm: Resume meetings
2pm: Eat breakfast bar - first meal of the day
4pm: Rush VIPs out the door and slip into a lecture, already in progress
5pm: Leave work and catch train
6:30pm: Eat lunch standing in the kitchen
7pm: Meet my new, fun friend Charles
8pm: Eat dinner at fabulous Greek restaurant
9:15pm: Leave Charles to meet colleague Jeanette for Work-related magazine event
10:45pm: Decide I might die if I don't leave and go catch train home.
11:15pm: Catch train
12:30am: Get home, try to prepare things for today
1:15am: Lay down to go to sleep

The alarm was so cruel this morning at 6am. I am supposed to be fasting, but after yesterday, I thought I might faint if I did. So I'm feeling guilty today.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Worried about my friends.

I feel like quite a large number of the people around me are falling apart.

Big things: relationship problems, critically ill parents, new babies, and big career choices.

I guess to a large extent it's just life. But these are the people that I love most in life. I want to help them and I don't know how.

It's all seriously weighing on me.

Oh, and I didn't go to African Dance - because I was too worried and wanted to be "on call" if a friend needed me.

I know everything will be okay, I just hope my friends know that I'm here when they need me and that I love them all very much.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Yay! It's today.

So African dance is tonight. I hope I like it and don't make a fool of myself.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

African Dance

After two long years.

After two long years, I am finally taking my first West African dance class tomorrow night.

I'll write more afterwards and let you all know how it goes. I'm nervous.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Never a Bridesmaid, always a ____?

I'm so excited. So very excited I can hardly speak. Super excited.

One of my two bestest friends called me last night and asked me to be her "bridesmaid, maid-of-honor, best-person thing" - Ooooo, Ooooo, Ooooo - I can't wait!

I'm tempted to say that I've never been a bridesmaid before, but I have been in two weddings: my Indian friend and my sister. Neither time was a very traditional affair. The Indian wedding, I didn't even know the extent of my role until I got there (or I would have dressed better!) and my sister's wedding was just our family, so it doesn't really count. (Sorry, Sarah, it was lovely though.)

I'm very curious to see how this goes. What will I get to wear? What are the chances that I'll be publicly humiliated by tripping down the aisle, crying hysterically at the beauty of it all, or accidentally tucking the back of my dress into my pantyhose?

And now I have to lose 15 pounds. I think all the bride's side has agreed to do so! Wonder what the groom's side will do?

Did I mention that I'm very excited?